Hanko (Swedish: Hangö) is Finland's southernmost city. It has a major marina which serves as a stop for boats traveling between Helsinki and the Archipelago Sea (a popular sailing destination). Hanko is a popular summer tourist destination. Tourism ensures good services and a lot of restaurants at the marina.
The Gulf of Finland is regarded as beginning at the Hanko peninsula. To the west are the Archipelago Sea (by the coast) and the main basin of the Baltic Sea.
As the Hanko peninsula must be passed by all coastal traffic, it was already an important stopover during the Viking Age. It was chartered as a town in 1874; a railway had been built; Hanko was to be a winter port for Finland and Saint Petersburg since the open sea off the peninsula freezes late. The following year a spa was built, and Hanko became a resort town, with many Russian guests. Finland was then part of the Russian Empire. The casino and the richly ornamented wooden houses of Hanko date from this time. The town developed industry, too.
When Finland became independent in 1917 and the Russian aristocracy suffered due to the revolution, the Russian tourists disappeared. After the Winter War, 1939–1940, the peninsula was leased to the Soviet Union as military base, as demanded by the peace treaty. The border was heavily fortified and manned, and plans for a decisive strike were made on both sides at the start of the Continuation War, but actual battles were minor and the Soviets retreated in 1941. Scattered fortifications remain, and there is a museum on the Hanko Front.
The town remains a major port for international trade, retains its industrial base, and has revived its role as a summer resort. The Hanko Regatta draws a huge crowd, both people participating or interested in the regatta, and those coming just because others are (called Regattasvansen, "the Regatta tail"), some of the latter causing a bit of trouble around the town.
The tip of the peninsula serves as a stopover point for migratory birds crossing the Gulf of Finland and, hence, hosts much birdwatching.
By train or by bus
All trains between Helsinki and Turku stop in Karis (Finnish: Karjaa), which is connected to Hanko by commuter train (often substituted by bus). There are coaches from Helsinki; timetables at Matkahuolto.
- 1 Hanko railway station (Hangon rautatieasema).
The town is a 1.5-hr drive from Helsinki, making it suitable for a day trip. Use the motorway (highway 1, E18) to Lohja or highway 51 along the coast to Karis. From the west along road 1 or 110, turn towards Ekenäs in Salo.
- Main article: Boating in Finland#Gulf of Finland
The coastal fairways pass the Hanko Peninsula's tip where Hanko is situated. Seafaring, fishing and hospitality to seafarers are Hanko's heritage.
Hanko is easily reached from the sea, but there are crossing fairways and freight traffic in the archipelago and near the peninsula's tip. Parts of the archipelago are difficult to navigate when disoriented.
The Eastern Harbour (Itäsatama, Östra hamnen) is the biggest and busiest guest marina in Finland. There is another guest marina on the north side of the peninsula.
In the 2000s there have been passenger ferry (or freight ships taking passengers) services from Germany and Estonia, on and off, but as of 2021 there are no such ferries. Around the world some freight ships take a limited number of passengers even if it's not their main business, so it may be possible to get to Hanko this way.
In 2022 Stena Line started a daily ropax service from Nynäshamn, Sweden. The ships are mainly for freight, but with some passenger capacity. The line does not accept pedestrians; an accompanying vehicle is necessary to board this line.
Eurovelo 10 around the Baltic Sea more or less follows road 51 from the east and road 110 from the west. Road 25 has narrows shoulders and many full-trailer lorries, you may want to use smaller roads as much as possible, even if they mean detours. The tourist office may have suggestions and maps.
The easiest way around Hanko is on foot. Most sights and services are close to the city centre and the marina. Except during the Hangon Regatta, taxis and parking spaces are readily available.
There is a route planner which includes information about bus services.
See Uusimaa#By taxi for information about companies and fares
- Smartphone apps: Valopilkku, 02 Taksi
- The House of the four winds, Neljäntuulenkuja, Pieni Mäntysaari, ☏ . The House of the four winds was hosted by C. G. E. Mannerheim in 1927-1933
- 1 Hanko Casino (Hangon Casino), Appelgrenintie 10, ☏ . Not a real casino these days, but a lavish wooden structure with nice view of the sea. The original Hanko Sushi restaurant operates here in summer.
- Giant's kettles. These natural rock formations are east of the Casino, on the rocks by the shore.
- 2 Hanko Front Museum (Lappvik). Museum on the life at the Hanko front during the Continuation War, with exhibitions also on Finnish war history and Finnish history in general. The museum features military and civil equipment, artillery, a tank, a korsu dugout replica built by war veterans and remaining fighting positions from the war.
- Tulliniemi (Tulludden). The tip of the peninsula is an important bird watching area, as migrating birds use this as the last spot to rest and wait for good weather before the sea crossing in autumn, and the first when arriving in spring.
- Hanko Regatta (Hangon regatta/Hangö regatta) (By the marina and all over town). The yacht race, held annually in early July, is the highlight of the summer in Hanko. Competitors come from all the countries of the Baltic coast and, due to the numerous spectators (and those using the regatta as an excuse for coming to party), Hanko takes on a festive, even rowdy, carnival atmosphere.
- Swimming. Hanko has sandy beaches to the west of the city and pebbly beaches between the marina and the Casino.
- 1 Regatta Spa, Merikatu 2, ☏ . The spa includes beauty and wellness services, rehabilitation, exercise and sports coaching, and a café-restaurant. The spa pool is 25 meters long. In addition, the spa has a 32-degree therapy pool and a sauna area.
- 1 Pizzeria Milano, Esplanaadi 69, ☏ .
- 2 Oi Hanko, Esplanaadi 79, ☏ . A Thai restaurant.
- Pizzeria Uno.
- Classic Pizza.
- Origo. Restaurant with a seafood buffet
- Hanko Sushi, Appelgrenintie 10 (It's at the Hangon Casino), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Open only in the summer. This is the first Hanko Sushi restaurant. The chain has spread to other cities.
- 1 Hanko Cafe, Ratakatu 16, ☏ .
- Roxx, the marina bar, Itäsatama, ☏ . Roxx, the marina bar, is also open outside of the sailing season and offers drinks and snacks. Marina sauna is rentable from Roxx outside of the sailing season.
During the regatta weekend, all accommodation tends to be outsold. Book early. There may still be room at the camping grounds, as there is no huge peak among the camping crowd.
- 1 Hotel Bulevard Hanko, Bulevardi 8, ☏ .
- 2 Regatta SPA Hotel, Torikatu 2.
- Camping Silversand, Aarne Karjalaisen tie 15, 10900 Hanko, ☏ , email@example.com.
- The train and National Road 25 both go to Karis via picturesque Ekenäs. From Karis, trains proceed to Helsinki and Turku.
- There is a bike route, Kustrutten ("the coastal route"), to Kasnäs at the far end of Kimitoön in the Archipelago Sea. The route includes pathways in the forest, but does not necessitate a terrain bike.
- Kasnäs can also be reached by boat: there is a daytime cruise thrice weekly (Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday) via Kasnäs to Örö in the Archipelago National Park. Twice weekly (Wednesday and Saturday) there is an evening cruise ending in Örö. (Check! A ship on this route has been transferred elsewhere.)
- 1 Bengtskär. Skerry in the outer archipelago, by the mouth of Gulf of Finland, with the tallest lighthouse in the Nordic countries. Tours from Hangö, with optional dinner, sauna, accommodation etc.
- It is possible to befriend a yacht crew and join them. Or charter a boat and go for yourself, e.g. Hanko-Uusikaupunki by boat.